Like leaving someone at the altar to elope with a true love, Akari Skin & Body Care owner Julienne James left hair school. It was 1987, and she had been giving her friends mini massages on the side. "I didn't have a true interest in my heart to do hair because of all the chemicals," she explained, "and [my friends] felt better after I did just a little bit of shoulder massage." That passing fancy was formalized through the massage therapy program at Therapeutic Learning Center in Fresno, aesthetician's training at Federico's Beauty College in Visalia, and a vow-renewal ceremony for her and her hands, creating a commitment to holistic health and skincare that she has sustained for more than a quarter-century.
Julienne exercises her passion on clients who range in age from 12 to 90 years. Treatments begin not atop the massage table she modified with extra padding and a tiny, hidden pea, but at the doorstep. The aromas of lavender and clary sage waft from the softly lit space, as these are some of her favorite scents for blending into massage oils and foot lotions. She acquired her knowledge of aromatherapy in England, where she also expanded her repertoire of Swedish, Shiatsu, and therapeutic massage with an Indian acupressure technique targeting stress in the scalp and neck. Massages are usually a fusion of these styles, which are further customized with the heat of the room and the presence or absence of scents and music. Julienne once noticed that a client who teaches piano recognized the classical music she turned on during the session, and has since been very careful about selecting tunes that would not remind anyone of going to work. Her meticulousness also extends to skin. Facials use additive-free Dermalogica products that won out against other brands in a personal, several-month-long test, and her wax is so thorough it can rid clients of hair and the memory thereof.
Though threading has been among Asia’s most popular depilation methods for thousands of years, it only recently made its way onto the service menus of Western spas. The ancient practice has shown signs of becoming more of a spa mainstay, however, thanks to an eco-friendly process that also manages to stay on good terms with sensitive skin.
For evidence of threading’s rapidly expanding popularity, one need not look further than Brow Shapes' Eastern-inspired treatment menu. When not sculpting brows into precise arches, the spa’s artists rely on their attention to detail to draw henna tattoos that depict flowery swirls, geometric patterns, or extremely detailed public-transit maps. The spa also features a variety of facial massages, each of which can be customized to relieve pain, aid in relaxation, and improve skin tone.
Situated in a historic neighborhood under the shadow of Sequoia National Park, Liza's Day Spa steeps the senses in tranquility with essential-oil aromas, Asian-inspired décor, and the sounds of burbling water. Skilled massage therapists mend tense backs with modalities ranging from Swedish and deep tissue to shiatsu and craniosacral, each helping to eradicate tension, chronic pain, and ill feelings toward mouthy shoulder blades. In a bath of warm, polished stones, patrons wiggle digits to prep them for the gentle shaping and polishing of hot-stone mani-pedis, and diamond-tipped microdermabrasion and custom facials help exfoliate and hydrate the skin.
Inside an open 2,200-square-foot space, Amoré Salon & Day Spa’s owner and proprietor Jessica Griffeth and her team of licensed professionals perform a full menu of beautification services including massage, spray tans, and haircuts. Before undergoing any of the salon’s rejuvenating services, clients can relax and talk openly with staff members to make suggestions, requests, or simply recite The Song of Hiawatha from memory.
Inside its golden, Romanesque spa space, Renaissance and its legions of 25-plus cater to muscles, manes, and minds. After an initial consultation, the skincarists will design a treatment facial for your skin condition. Each service includes a sudsy, double cleansing of cheeks, chins, and noses, along with exfoliation and necessary extractions. During the cleaning, a beauty-savvy cartographer assesses skin topography in preparation for a Face Mapping, which, in addition to targeting skin tone with steam treatment, determines whether or not your face is caked in peanut butter. All cleansing is followed with a face, neck, and shoulder massage, along with a clarifying masque and moisturizer.
Certified massage therapist and licensed aesthetician Shawna Young unburdens achy muscles and unearths fresher faces with massage and skincare services that she adapts to fit each client's particular needs. A one-hour massage conforms to the pressure intensity level that the client desires, lightly caressing tired muscles with Swedish strokes, untying knotted tendons with deep-tissue techniques, or dismissing physical or emotional trauma with cranial sacral therapy. Expectant mothers unwind during a prenatal massage, which cradles bodies with a pregnancy pillow to alleviate the strain that results in leg cramps, backaches, and bowling defeats.